A Balancing Act + Day 44 Update

View from tent – Sebastian Inlet State Park, FL

On day one of this adventure, we loaded everything on the bikes and started riding.  We both almost crashed before turning the very first corner!  Why?  The bikes were not properly balanced as there was WAY too much weight on the front making them hard to steer.  Yes, we had taken several test trips, but this was the first time we had 100% of all of our gear loaded up (including 30 lbs of dog food and a week’s worth of people food).  We got a very late start and it was already hot, so the situation required we muscle the bikes in a straight line and soldier on.

The very next day, we unpacked and repacked everything, focusing on weight distribution.  We put the big things in first, testing weight/balance adding/subtracting where needed.  The result was a much improved ride.  Over time, we have fine-tuned all of the bags and gear and we now ride bikes that feel balanced and ideally suited to the purpose for which they were made.

Life can get like that too.  We collect things all our lives, pack-up all our baggage and then maybe one day we feel an imbalance.  Maybe we even do it for so long that we stop noticing things aren’t right.  Every so often, we should unpack and repack our lives and consider discarding some things we no longer need.  In life, just like the panniers on our bikes, there is limited capacity.  Put the big things in first.  Restore the balance. Life is short. Don’t spend it unbalanced and riding in circles.  Whatever you do though, #justride.

Summary to Day 44

Total Miles: 1,184.18 (we broke 1,000! WOOP!)

Rest Days: 12

Motel/Hotel Nights: 11

Tent Nights:  29

Rustic Cabin Nights:  4

Total States: 4 (NC, SC, GA and FL)

Showers:  We just went 11 days and only took 3 showers between the two of us.  Eeek.  Sometimes it gets scary out here on the road.

Something big is on our horizon!  We have been counting down both days and miles until October 2 since even before we launched this trip.  Mark’s mom, sister, and one of his aunts are all flying in to Ft. Lauderdale to visit for a week!  We are excited beyond belief to see everyone.  On timing this visit, it’s one thing to drive from one part of the country to another and hit a date on a calendar, it’s quite yet another to ride a bicycle about 1,300 miles and hit a day that was seven weeks out.  We ended up going a bit too fast in the first 4-5 weeks, so we have had to slow our roll (ha) in the last few days.  This has meant one or two rest days for every day of riding.  It’s been nice, and we have gotten caught up on some of the things we were trying to do in our downtime.  Like taking a shower.

Rooms with AC!

We have also discovered Airbnb, a website/app which allows us to sometimes find opportunities to stay inside for near campsite prices.  That is a big advantage right now, as the heat, humidity and bugs are sometimes a challenge.  We have a stay with an Airbnb member soon, so look for our update!

Run Wild Beast, Run

Biscuit is our loyal protector, and part of that job includes defending the tent area from wild beasts at night.  Apparently, the best way to do this is to wait until everyone is sleeping soundly, then climb on top of Mark’s face, bark, and scratch fiercely at the tent mesh.  This, in case you were wondering, doesn’t typically have positive results [B: Are we safe from wild beasts?  Are we?!  That’s all I’m saying].  All is well however after the application of a significant portion of an $8 roll of extra strength duct tape.  This is the third such incident and we anticipate having the first ever tent made entirely of duct tape by December.


A Story from the Road

A few days back, we were leaving our campsite and an older man rode up next to us on a bike.  He slowed to chat, “where are you going?”  Georgia replied that we were heading south, and that we were on a year-long, 10,000 mile trip.  Her words didn’t even register, so he asked again where we are going and the second time around, he heard the information.  “OUT ON THE ROADS?!  With traffic and trucks and crazy drivers?!  With DOGS?! That’s not safe!”  I replied that we were already about 900 miles in and had ridden all the way from the Outer Banks of NC.  He said he only rode in the parks, and never out on the roads because it was too dangerous out there.  We all chatted a bit more and he rode off saying, “wow, Wow, WOW!” in a progressively louder but more distant voice.   That “wow” sounded to us like a mixture of disbelief, belief that we are crazy, and perhaps a bit of amazement that such things are possible.  We still discuss that interaction, just like we sometimes revisit dozens of other interactions we have experienced.  This trip, as with everything in life, has a risk and a reward.  We can play it safe and never take a risk, but we will also miss out on living.  We choose to live.  We #justride.

Mark, Georgia, Junebug and Biscuit

Month One – All is Well


Total Miles: 898.63

Longest Day: 68.16

Shortest Day 19.4

Rest Days: 7

Motel/Hotel Nights: 7

Tent Nights:  20

Rustic Cabin Nights:  4

Total States: 4 (NC, SC, GA and FL)

Favorite Town:  Neptune Beach, FL.  These are our people.

Items we have lost:  Five bagels to clever raccoons.  Two bolts, one from the trailer and another from a rear bicycle rack.

The longest we have worn a single shirt:  3 days (why change shirts and get a clean one dirty?)


Most important, all four of us have been very happy and healthy.  Knees and backs have all been holding up and not causing us any issues.  For the humans, there was one 2-3 day bout of intestinal distress and a few minor passing aches and pains.  For the pups, there has been a few burrs/thorns, but outside of that they have been super healthy too [B: Death to burrs!].  The fresh air and exercise has been good for us all.

We finished the first month almost 22% under budget [JB: Yay!  This means extra treat money!].  We feel pretty good about that because it’s a tight budget that allows us to spread our funds out to last until the end.  The numbers are a little off because we brought a lot of food with us that was not part of the monthly costs we tracked, including 30lbs of puppy food.  We also know that FL is going to have higher expenses, because everything costs more…the campgrounds, the food, etc.  Also, Georgia has been working 2-3 days per month for her old company which requires us to pull off the road and find a dog-friendly wi-fi enabled hotel.  Thanks Lifesprk for the nice hotel break and extra income!

By far the most popular part of our trip is the puppy hauler.  And we gotta say, it IS pretty cool.  People on bikes?  Folks see that all the time.  People doing a bicycle tour?  We are following established bicycle routes, so that isn’t uncommon either.  People doing a bicycle tour towing two dogs in a 6’ long bright orange covered wagon?  Unique!  The most common comment from women is “Awww!”  The most common comment from men is some version of “That’s a great rig!”  Several people wanted to know where they could get one and several others wanted to ride along with the pups! [B: Come on!]

Yesterday, we were passed by a gentleman on a beach cruiser bike.  Yes, we get passed a lot.  So far, I think we have caught and passed only three riders.  As he went by, we received a big hearty thumbs up and a smile.  A bit further on, he was on the opposite side of the road with his camera ready to take a picture of our bicycle train.  He called out, “you inspire me.”  We don’t know his name and we won’t ever see him again, but those kind words gave us smiles for the rest of the day.  It was a 5 second instance from one day, and we won’t ever forget.  One of the most fantastic parts of this trip has been our interactions with people…friends and family, and new people we have met along the way.  A kind word, a comment, a like on Facebook all mean so much to us.  We have been given nourishment, shelter, and many times been told, “if you need anything, let me know.”  If you need to restore your faith in humanity, take a bicycle trip.  There are some great people out here.  We know that for a fact, we meet them daily.  Not only do we love receiving the support and encouragement, but we also love hearing about them and their lives.  Everyone has a story and something valuable to say if you listen.

In just one month this trip has stripped away most of what we took for granted in regular life.  Some simple things are now hard to come by.  A good night of sleep.  Cool water.  A real meal.  The security of being behind a locked door.  A chair.  Those aren’t complaints, not at all.  Neither of us would trade and go back.  Our lives are now more raw, more immediate, more real than we feel they have been in a long time.  The experiences we are accumulating are rich, deep and will be memories for a lifetime.  We both feel that we already have many positive experiences, so much ahead of us to look forward to, and the current moment is quite fantastic too.  Is this easy?  No.  It is all sunshine and roses?  No.  But we aren’t dwelling on the negatives.  Life is too short for that and this trip is already going fast.  Enjoy what you have, experience what you can, get out there and live.  Do it.  #justride

Mark, Georgia, Junebug and Biscuit


Days 22-28 (Statesboro, GA to Folkston, GA)


Showers:                          7 (each).  Look at us, showering about twice a week now! [g: umm, it is called a prewash cycle followed by wash cycle, does that count as 2? Giggle]

Tent Nights:                     20

Hotel Nights:                    4

“Rustic” Cabin Nights:    4

Restaurant Meals           5

Miles Traveled:               844.43


North Carolina.  Check!

South Carolina.  Check!

Georgia.  Check!

And we cross over into Florida on Wednesday morning!  Progress!  We’ll be in Florida for a long, long time as we plan to ride all the way down to Key West (and back if they won’t let us on the ferry), plus we have a stop planned to visit family for an extended break.  This will be our last new state for several weeks.

Looking at the map, it may have appeared our last couple of weeks were rather boring.  We weren’t near the excitement of the coast and bypassed some of the major tourist destinations.  Looks can be deceiving as this section of our trip proved to be very rich on experiences.

In Point South we stayed at a KOA managed by a very nice gentleman who provided lots of good information and advice for our journey.  It’s a stop we’d recommend to anyone, even those not interested in tent camping as you can rent a trolley car or caboose in which to spend the night!  As they were unrented during our stay, we peeked inside and they looked very nice!  The campground also has a coffee shop, small store, hot food, and evening wine tasting.  He said he wanted it to be like staying in a hotel, but camping, so you get the best of both worlds.  It is a great place!

From there we moved on to Gordonia-Alatahama State Park and met Al, the park ranger who was accommodating and encouraging.  We also talked a bit with the campground hosts, who were just as nice and welcoming.  Everyone has a story, and theirs was a compelling one that gave us a little wind in our sails to continue on our journey.  It’s been fun to hear about the lives of others, and how many of them ended up with the same sort of conclusions that led us to this trip.

Next we made a connection through Couchsurfing that we thought would just be a yard in which to pitch our tent and avoid the sun.  It turned out to be a family who extended a welcome mat and offered us hospitality far, far beyond our expectations.  There were boiled peanuts and muscadine grapes, picked just that day.  We tasted jelly as it was being canned.  Mmmm! And we had our first home cooked meal in a month!  We even left with a cold watermelon tucked in the trailer with the pups, and a Ziploc package of hard boiled eggs.  It was the first day of dove hunting season, and one of the neighbors stopped by to show us a visitor he saw that day, a 5’ rattlesnake.  Though dead, it was still twitching and moving, and even striking a stick occasionally.  And, as luck would have it, peeing.  Right on Georgia.  As if she didn’t need a shower before!





The next stop was at a camp, closed for the summer, but opened up just for us to stay a night out of the heat.  The Pastor and his wife brought us by a cooler with ice, water, and two very tasty Gatorades.  Two other folks checked on us too, to see if we needed anything.  We certainly felt welcomed and really enjoyed the break from the heat.

And our most recent stop is a small B&B in Folkston, GA, a town known for trains.  The owners live on site, and are very friendly and accommodating.  Plus, the breakfast is fantastic!  They even made gluten-free pancakes!  Again, they have a story that runs somewhat parallel to ours, pursuing something that ignites their passions even though it involved risk.  We’d stay there again in a heartbeat.



It is our hope that all of the people we have met in the last few days are reading this.  Thank you!  That’s very, very sincere.  All of you now ride with us!

Tomorrow we have a lot of miles to cover, about 60, to make our next destination so we are currently soaking up the chance to rest and relax.  A nap might even be involved, since we won’t spend the afternoon quietly sweating in the shade like on most days!   As we write this, we both feel strong and rested and ready for the challenge.

We are nearing 1,000 miles, which seems like a major milestone to us.  That’s a long way, even in a car.  There are still a lot of challenges ahead, but we are all working well as a team (even the pups).    And, most importantly, we are having the time of our lives!

— Mark, Georgia, Junebug and Biscuit